I spent this past weekend with three-hundred and fifty spiritual directors--women and men from many faith traditions who help folks navigate the life of the spirit. We had all gathered in Toronto for the annual conference of Spiritual Directors International.
It was a well-organized event, with the usual mix of workshops and plenary sessions, keynote presentations and even a bit of music. But what makes these gatherings relatively unique is the silence, for several times over the course of the gathering we were called into intentional times of silence, intentional times of making space for the Holy.
One of the workshop leaders distributed copies of a poem by May Sarton titled "Beyond Questions." It is a lovely extended metaphor, drawing a comparison between a nesting bird and the practice of silence (or at least that's how I read it!) Despite it's title, one stanza asks a powerful question:
Can I weave a nest for silence
Weave it of listening
Listening layer upon layer?
I bring many things home from my Canadian sojourn, many leanings, but perhaps the most important thing I carried back across the border is a reminder of the role silence can and does play in my work as a pastor, in my work as as a spiritual director, and beyond that, in my very life.